Normally we use accusative to express the destination of the movement in Latin. Why then is the ablative form of interrogative pronoun (ie. "quo") used in the "Quo vadis?" sentence?

When we answer this question, everything is back to normal and we use accusative, for example "Romam vado".

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    Quō originated as the ablative of quī but it ended up taking on a life of its own as an adverb. One of the meanings it gained was "whither".
    – Draconis
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 19:12
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    Thank you for your explanation. Why don't you add it as an answer, so I could accept it? Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 20:34
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    It's a bit too short for the answer atm but I'll flesh it out tomorrow and provide some sources.
    – Draconis
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 20:44
  • @Draconis no you won't. Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 10:12

1 Answer 1


Typically the direction of movement is expressed with accusative (perhaps with in or ad). While quo is originally an ablative of the interrogative pronoun, it should not be treated as an ablative here. Instead, just take it as an adverb, not as an inflected pronoun.

It would be interesting to know why the ablative form evolved into this pronoun.

  • Worth mentioning: A lot of adverbs have an ablative as origin; generally, if you find a puzzling ablative in a sentence, check whether it actually had become an adverb.
    – Canned Man
    Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 10:25

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